Disability Services

Personal Care Attendant (PCA)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Personal Care Attendant (PCA)? 

A personal care attendant is a person hired by a student with a disability to provide physical assistance to the student. Services that a PCA might provide include: retrieving items from a backpack for class, picking up items that have fallen, driving the student to and from campus, carrying bags and other items, and (for residential students) assisting the student with morning and evening routines. PCAs are employed by the student and are not connected with the University in an employment capacity.

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Will a PCA attend class?

Yes, PCAs are welcome on campus in the classroom and at all University functions. Some PCAs will stay in the classroom during the entire class period, other PCAs will help their employer get ready for class and then leave the classroom until class is over. A PCA is not an enrolled member of the class.

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Can the PCA help the student during class?

Yes, PCAs are welcome to stay during the entire class period. Seating for the PCA can be arranged by contacting the Student Success Center at 417-659-3725. Students are asked to be as quiet and discrete as possible during class when working with the PCA in order to not disturb other students. A PCA cannot assist with tests. If a student needs an accommodation for a test, please contact the Student Success Center. Scribes, readers, alternative formats, etc. will be provided when appropriate.

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Does the PCA participate in class?

In general, we discourage PCAs from participating in class unless you expressly invite the person to do so. The student is responsible for all communication with you and other students. The PCA may not speak for the student, clarify information, make requests, or ask questions at any time during or after class. The exception to this rule is if the student’s speech is difficult to understand by people who do not know him or her. In this case, the PCA could serve as an interpreter.

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Can a PCA be enrolled in the class (i.e. take the class for credit)?

If the PCA is qualified to be a student and has been admitted to the University, and if he or she has met all of the pre-requisites of the course, then the PCA could be enrolled in the class. Ultimately, though, this decision is left to the student who employs the PCA. The student will determine whether or not the PCA can still perform their job while participating in class.

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What if you have a concern or issue about a PCA being in class?

If you have questions or reservations about the PCA, please call the Student Success Center, 417-659-3725, to talk about the arrangement.

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What if the PCA is absent? Am I or another student required to fill in?

No, the student is required to arrange for and manage his or her own PCA services. The University is not involved or responsible for the PCA services. By extension, you are not expected to fill in for an absent PCA.

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Should the PCA be a note taker for the student?

In general, we discourage students from asking their PCAs to take notes for them during class. The Student Success Center can provide a note taker for the class. More information about note taking services is available from the Coordinator for Disability Services at 417-659-3725.

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What happens if the PCA is disruptive during class or breaks a University rule?

The PCA’s employer, the student, is responsible for the PCA. If you have a question or concern about the PCA, we encourage you to speak privately with the student. If you cannot resolve the situation, you can contact the Student Success Center or the Dean of Students.

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